David Luiz still regards Angel di Maria as one of the best footballers on the planet and is looking forward to playing alongside him once he completes his transfer from Manchester United to Paris St Germain.
After days of negotiation, the protracted Di Maria transfer saga appears to be nearing an end.
PSG coach Laurent Blanc says that the Argentinian midfielder is “close” to sealing a move to the French champions.
Reports in France claim PSG will pay United €65 million (£46 million) for the 27-year-old, who failed to settle in Manchester following his British record transfer from Real Madrid last year.
Despite struggling in the Barclays Premier League last term, Luiz believes Di Maria is still one of the best footballers in the world and that is why he is looking forward to playing alongside his former Benfica team-mate again.
“Di Maria would make us stronger, for sure,” the PSG defender said after the club’s 2-0 win over United in Chicago.
“I hope to see him (at PSG). He is a great friend, a great player, and every single team he plays in, he makes the difference.
“He helps on the defensive side, he knows how to assist, and to score goals.
“I played with him in Benfica when he was just 70 kilos,” he added with a chuckle. “It was great to play with him then and it’s great to see how much he has improved, and how he has become a fantastic player. It would be a pleasure to play with him again.”
United thought they had pulled off a major coup when they signed Di Maria from Madrid last summer for £59.7m.
He was voted man of the match in Real Madrid’s Champions League final win over Atletico Madrid a few months earlier and was named in the World Cup team of the tournament soon after.
But after an impressive start at United, Di Maria’s form dipped and he only started one of the final 10 games of last season.
Then, in February, Di Maria moved out of his Cheshire home after an attempted burglary at the property.
He was due to report for pre-season training during the second leg of United’s tour of the United States in San Jose last weekend, but never showed. After the defeat to PSG, manager Louis van Gaal claimed he still did not know the whereabouts of his star midfielder. “I don’t know where he is,” the United boss said after a blunt exchange in his post-match press conference at the Soldier Field.
”You can ask that every week but I don’t answer that question.”
Despite his often erratic form, Luiz enjoyed his three-year spell in England with Chelsea.
He admits others sometimes struggle to adapt to English life, but he still sees last season as just a blip for the Argentine international.
“Sometimes you don’t have luck, and you don’t adapt. It could be one of many things,” the centre-half said.
“There are different stories to me. When I went to England I didn’t speak English. The first word I learned was ’geezer’.
“I don’t know what happened with him (Di Maria), but he is still one of the best players in the world.”
Luiz insists that he has not spoken to Di Maria about moving to PSG.
The Brazilian is sure the midfielder would enjoy life at the Parisian club, though.
“He hasn’t asked me (about PSG),” Luiz said.
“He is like every single professional. He is quiet now.
“I think everyone knows to play for PSG is a pleasure for everyone.”
© Irish Examiner Ltd. All rights reserved